Dobbies has announced that it will open the first of its 68 restaurants in Northern Ireland on 3 July, with those in England reopening on 4 July, followed by Wales 13 July and Scotland on 15 July. But other operators are staggering their re-opening to gauge customer response.
Blue Diamond – New EPOS system
Blue Diamond will open 12 restaurants on Jul 4. The remaining 30 will open over the next 2 weeks depending on performance of initial 12.
During lockdown it has commissioned a new EPOS system that incorporates an Ap for customers to download. This will enable them to order and pay via their phones at the table.
MD, Alan Roper, believes the reopening will be successful despite a reduction of covers of between 10% and 30% depending on the layout of each restaurant. Perspex screens between tables will help increase the density.
Haskins are also staggering restaurant opening over the next two weeks. Next week it will reopen the restaurants at Roundstone and Ferndown garden centres.
Berwick Garden Centre
Berwick will fully re-open both English restaurants with 1 metre+ spacing. This will cause little problem as tables and kitchens already well spaced. It also plans to develop a carry out facility to cater for customers still not keen to enter premises.
MD, Nick Crabbie is expecting a reduction in overall catering sales and so will be rotating furloughed staff but is prepared to be surprised.
The group's Scottish GC, will not open fully until mid July and may need to observe 2 metre spacing which will have a large impact on sales.
Squire’s are taking a cautious approach
Squire’s say they are taking a very cautious approach. One pilot is opening in Milford on 6th July, introducing a different table service model to ensure it complies with all Government guidelines. The rest will follow over the next couple of months if the model is proven.
Klondyke is adopting a similar approach to Squire’s. It is cautiously reopening restaurants within the guidance from the government and anticipates it will be profitable but not as good as it was before Covid 19.
The group is opening one restaurant as a trial to test out the new procedures before it opens the rest of them.
Poplars is unlikely to open its restaurant before August
David Little writes, “I’m afraid the earliest our restaurant will open is the 1st August – but we may delay even longer.
“I need to be convinced it is safe, realistic and viable. We will see how others get on before we take the plunge. As there will be so many changes we are thinking of it more as a launch than a re-opening.
“A lot will need to change to meet the new guidelines and regulations. Covers will fall from 360 to 168 based on current plans. It becomes hard to break even at that level.”
Hillier says, "We will be opening Botley and Newbury on Monday 6th initially give ourselves the opportunity to test and adapt over the first couple of weeks before starting a rolling programme to reopen all."
Aylett Nurseries have no plans to re-open the restaurant
Aylett Nurseries have no plans to open their restaurant at the moment, where it is difficult to achieve social distancing. They are running a take away offer and are considering opening pop-up restaurants around the garden centre for the summer.
MD, Adam Wigglesworth, says customers are tending to come in for a quick visit and leave, he does not believe many want to dwell in the restaurant.